Friday, February 08, 2008

Baked Cod

I feel like I ought to give this dish a pretentious name like "Herb and Parmesan Crusted Cod, but then I'd feel stupid telling you that the most important part of the crust is the fake butter flavoured crackers. It doesn't matter which brand-I bought Town House because they were on sale and I'll never use them for anything other than baking fish, but if you prefer Ritz, feel free to substitute.

This is such an easy way to prepare fish and I owe the thanks for the recipe to the East Boston fishmonger on Sumner Street who taught me how to bake cod nearly sixteen years ago. The only fish I'd eaten with regularity at home were tinned salmon and whitefish. On special occasions we might get rainbow trout, but even that was served cold. In fact, until I was an adult it never occurred to me that people eat fish hot. It wasn't bad served cold, particularly the whitefish, which is a very thin, tender variety.

Now, this recipe is simple enough to throw together in a short time, but you'll be happier if you do some of the prep work ahead. Get your crackers crushed and the parsley chopped early in the day and then it really will be a matter of throwing dinner together in a flash.

A note about cod depending on the piece you get, there will be part that is thicker. Cut that part off as soon as it is finished and cover the plate with foil to keep warm. You'll be happier this way than sacrificing it to overcooking for the sake of the wider, thicker part of the filet. In a 425-degree oven this should take about 10-15 minutes. Watch it closely and when the fish flakes easily-get it out immediately.

You Will Need:

Cod Filets (this recipe will do a couple pounds)
2 cups crushed buttery-flavoured crackers like Ritz or Townhouse
½ cup chopped, fresh parsley
1 lemon, quartered
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon chervil
½ teaspoon tarragon
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten

Crush the crackers in a plastic bag with a rolling pin. Dump crackers in a bowl. Add the parsley, thyme, chervil, tarragon, salt and pepper and Parmesan cheese.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Rinse fish and pat dry. Coat with egg and then with cracker/herb mixture. Place half of the butter cubes in the bottom of the baking dish. Place the fish atop the butter and then add remaining crumbs to the top of fish. Dot with remaining butter. Take 1 wedge of lemon and squeeze it over the fish.

Bake until fish flakes easily-about 10-15 minutes. Serve hot.

*The veg is asparagus that was steamed then sauteed in olive oil with garlic, black olives and Feta cheese.

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